The interiors space is a crowded one with so many online and offline companies today, servicing different sizes, locations and complexity of projects. A call to these companies will be a detailed questionnaire which often befuddles old timers as traditionally one is used to someone coming over and explaining various ideas in a one to one meeting. This is usually to establish project feasibility based on scope, budget and area of service. This often puts customers in a bind because it breaks away from the traditional way of visiting the flat and deciding the design and costing.
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However, the space has become complex and not all companies take up all types of projects. Expertise is divided over project values and complexity and this division is not obviously delineated.
So coarsely, the industry is divided into 3 main types of players: Online pan india type companies, local design/architect companies, local contractors. Understanding these differences is one of the most important steps that every informed consumer must take on.
There are very clear differentiations between the sorts of projects online companies take, contractors take, and design companies take on.
Its common knowledge that smaller repair based works is easy to give to a local contractor, however the confusion starts in projects of more than 2 lakh value or which involve the entire home or office. A lot of the Pan-India players like livspace, homelane etc tend to focus on standardized products which don’t involve extensive civil work. It is a well-known fact that their target scope range is usually 7-10 lakh. Their entire offering is structured to be extremely affordable, highly scalable products that can be replicated over all the cities they service.
Another breakaway from tradition that bewildered many is the requirement of the floor plan instead of actual site measurement. Most people expect that site visit where they tell the contractor and he notes down the requirement and provides the costing. However, with designers involved in the process, the discussion has to be an aesthetic cum commercial one. A discussion about a certain style and cost and targeted solutions. In fact as per MAHArera floor plans and actual flats have to be almost exact and so the initial quotations based on floor plans may be new but is quite accurate!
The up side to this influx of tech based interior design companies, is the free use of 3Ds for designing. However one thing is important to remember that design comes about through an interactive process of incorporating your exact requirements of space utilization, colour combination and detailing. So if you are receiving fast 3Ds, they are usually generic 3Ds
Modular vs on site carpentry:
With the mechanization of the interior industry, fabulous factory finished furniture became accessible to everyone and that was the beginning of many online players. However, most fast execution companies have adopted factory finished furniture.
Even this change is a big change from onsite handmade furniture and workmanship. Handmade, custom made products developed by artisans is slow process with workmanship inconsistencies.
However, the awareness about modular furniture is so little and often filled with misinformation. Below are a few myths that need to be addresses
Myth 1: Modular furniture is not good quality. The difference between carpentry and modular furniture is simply that a machine presses the laminate on the ply and sticks a pvc edge band. The joinery is mostly german fittings. The bid plus side is speed and consistent finishing as compared to handmade workmanship
Myth 2: The ply used in modular is thinner, poorer quality. Most modular factories are not plywood or laminate/acrylic manufacturers. Carpenters buy the plywood and laminate and so do the factories. Ply available in the market is standard.
Myth 3: Seeing the materials being assembled in front of ones eye is better than getting warranty afterwards.
Most consumers are laymen, we may not even understand what we are seeing. In fact, companies that are provided post installation service and warranty should trump one time service.
Myth 4: Old traditions are better than new innovations
With globalization, better engineering and new innovations are reaching us faster and this might be more of a generational hang up to go towards tried and tested methods of the past. However, german fittings and standardized branded products bring such immaculate quality that it is just a matter of time that the new way is the only way
Ultimately the onus of company research and decision making based on the initial interactions lies with the consumer and all real 3D work or design/planning starts after the booking amount. However, with so much competition obviously the customer has gained much more clarity on design and costing over the traditional ways. Here are a few easy tips
1. Understand the company you are approaching. There are so many specific approaches and specializations
2. Be clear on your scope of work, understand the cost
3. Don’t go for the lowest cost
4. Have an open mind to design- understand the style that each company specializes in!
5. Be wary of unrealistic prices and design
This author, Smita Vijaykumar, is an experienced architect, design lead with reNNovate interiors.
First Published: IST